Anxiety and Thyroid Disorders

Tess Thompson

Anxiety and depression are usually not related to a specific medical cause, but a significant majority of people have anxiety as one of the symptoms of thyroid problems. Thyroid hormones play an important role in metabolism, and regardless of the thyroid condition, any disruption in the normal secretion of thyroid hormones is liable to affect every cell and organ in the body. The organic processes within the body, including basal metabolism, are affected both by a deficiency or a surplus of thyroid hormones. Both these conditions can cause physical and emotional problems.

Most of the thyroid diseases occur due to an autoimmune disorder, a process that relates to the immune response of the body against substances normally present in the body. The immune system starts attacking the thyroid gland with antibodies, which are normally meant for combating foreign invasions of pathogens like bacteria, viruses and allergens. Such attacks slowly disrupt the thyroid functions, leading to thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Medical science has yet to understand what causes autoimmune thyroid disease, but the end result is that compromised thyroid health leads to emotional and problems.

As thyroid hormones affect every cell in the body, an overactive thyroid speeds up metabolism. This leads to symptoms of anxiety like panic attacks and extreme nervousness. In extreme cases, it may also lead to depression. Surprisingly, symptoms of anxiety are known to manifest even when metabolism is slowed down in hypothyroidism.

The development of anxiety symptoms does not necessarily occur when thyroid disease has advanced to any particular stage. There is a significant connection between anxiety and thyroid disease at the sub-clinical level, the stage in the development of thyroid disease before the symptoms are observed. Simply stated, this means that if you suddenly perceive frequent mood changes without reason, there is a strong possibility of thyroid dysfunction. If these mood changes relate to excessive anxiety or nervousness, it would do you good to get your thyroid health checked.

If anxiety is accompanied by some of the other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, it should be a further cause of concern. These symptoms may include unexplained weight gain/loss, fatigue, goiter or enlarged thyroid and/or general feeling of slowing down. A simple blood test to discover the level of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) will indicate to your doctor if you need thyroid treatment or not. Treatment of the relevant thyroid problem can help to reduce or eliminate symptoms of thyroid disease, including anxiety.

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